Thursday, September 7, 2017

Reaction to Failure

In the course of life, we will inevitably face failures, some more grievous than others. Failure at a game is but a small and flighty disappointment. Others are more serious and have more lasting consequences. These potential failures loom over many of us like a cloud ready to burst. But it is how we react to these failures that truly show what kind of people we are.

Although I have long known this, I didn't think about it when I recently faced a particularly painful failure. I was in line for a new job. One that would pay well and actually help me get some things I need in life. A bit more clothing, some repairs, more food, maybe even some more comforts like movies and books. It was yesterday when my spirits were high that I learned I had been denied the position that I wanted.

And this was right before I was about to go into my current job for the closing shift. This bad news set a bad tone for the rest of the night. While I didn't take my disappointment out on my co-workers or customers, I was still in a quiet, dour mood. And yet when I broke the news to my friends there, I found myself not lamenting not getting shoes without holes or not being able to repair my bike, but saddened that I wouldn't actually be able to do something for someone else. The day I was anticipating my new job start was also coincidentally the birthday of two of my sisters, twins.

The week before I had spoken with the wee girls on the phone, and hearing their excited voices as they chattered to me voicing ideas of what they wanted for their birthday I couldn't help but feel overwhelming love for them. I wanted to make them happy. I wanted to make all of my friends and family happy. I wanted to use my new potential wealth to help others. But with the job denial, I wasn't able to do that.

It was at that time of sadness that I realized that I was sad about what mattered most to me: Bringing joy to those I care about. Granted, these were items that wouldn't save their lives or stave off hunger, but they were things I knew would make them happy, and their happiness meant more to me than my own physical well being.

As the day wore on my mood softened and I reconciled myself to the job hunt once more, even as I plodded about footsore and hungry. But I steadily grew more hopeful that I would find another job. Something better, with less stress and better pay.

How we react in defeat reveals our true nature. And while I wish I had reacted better myself, I could have reacted far worse. And somehow I find that what I cared about the most at the cost of the job oddly comforting. I will get back on the trail once again and hopefully with help move up in the world.

And today some of my patience and optimism was rewarded. A pair of close friends heard of my plight, and actually volunteered to help mail these gifts to my little sisters. That act of selflessness took most of the sting out of my loss, and warmed my heart. It only reinforces my belief that some of the biggest impacts in life can be made with the smallest of heartfelt gestures and good deeds.

So even when things get bad, try to look for the good. And when you see someone suffering, a simple act of genuine kindness might turn them around. Never underestimate the power of caring.

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